tv [untitled] CSPAN April 2, 2010 12:30pm-1:00pm EDT
i metals with an enormously talented cambridge-trained lawyer whose created an institution to strengthen the rule of law in his own country. and also with a woman professor who turned her ngo for providing care to women and children in the fatah into a truly formidable oppositional force to taliban extremism. these are the kinds of developments that are at the heart of rolling back militancy and we are determined to do what we can working with them, with other governments and with the international community to ensure that they succeed. i want to thank you very much for coming today. and i look forward to your questions. [applause] ..
this is related question, you know, any update on the bin laden hunt or is that trail like cold? and has it been made kind of a higher priority again in the obama administration? >> well, it's certainly high priority in, i don't really have any news that i can share here and now on that one. in terms of the capabilities of al qaeda, i think that director panetta in his various statements has captured quite well. the group really is, certainly its senior leadership is under the worst pressure it has experienced in quite a long time. certainly since the
2001-2002 period. however, this is an enormously capable and innovative opponent that is always looking for new ways to achieve its ends. i don't think that we should write off their ability to direct complicated logistically challenging operations that could strike u.s. interests abroad or at home and, i think the other thing to note is that the threat in some ways, as i noted about al qaeda of the arabian peninsula is a bit more distributed than it was before and a lot of these groups are capable, a lot of these groups, al qaeda in arabian peninsula certainly and other groups aspirationally are able to conceive of operations themselves and are of, you know, tapping their way forward to carry them out. again, i think that we are doing better attack call
counterterrorism than we have ever done before but i think it is a die ma'amming and evolving situation and i would note one new complexity we face is we've seen significant uptick in domestic radicalization which obviously will complicate matters significantly. we have seen, you know, half pakistani, half american, using chicago as a facilitation point for operations in india, denmark and elsewhere. we have seen five young men from virginia turn up in pakistan on their way to the fatah. we continue to see a trickle of individuals, somalian ancestry heading to east africa. so while i think that we are doing well, you know, the nature of the threat is always changing. >> thank you. let's open it up now for
comments and, questions from the floor. if speakers could please identify themselves and wait for the microphone. we have the first question here in the front row with raymond tanter. >> hi. ray tanter, georgetown university. ambassador benjamin, thank you for your service to our country and our outstanding presentation. i wondered, you tended to use the word violent extremism, words like islamist never came out of your mouth during your speech. and some people think that the obama administration has turned its back and not taken the war on terrorism, if may use that term, as seriously as the result of the fact that you don't talk about role of islam. reminds me of when rob litak led the way with term rogue
state. rogue reg geem. madeleine albright said let's not use that term anymore. is the choice of language away of communicating to the muslim world, quote, unquote, islam is not the issue even though there are extremists who are muslim? is that the purpose? >> i get this question with every appearance. i think that the best way to put it is that the issues of what constitutes true islam and what does not are best answered among muslims and by muslims. our concern is really with those who seek to use violence as a means to affect our policy and our actions in the world. i would argue that it's a sign of our seriousness we don't resort to that kind of
language precisely because it has had such negative effects in the past when people have gotten themselves tangled up in issues of muslim doctrine and i think that it is counterproductive for american political officials, for officials of any kind to start holding forth in terms of doctrineal terms what a religion says or doesn't. it has not gotten us anywhere in the past and i don't think it will get us anywhere in the future. doesn't mean i as scholar didn't write about it and doesn't mean lots of other people don't have legitimate work to do in that field but from a policy perspective it hasn't gotten us anywhere. >> gentleman in the front row. jasper. please identify yourself. >> ambassador benjamin. india abroad.
i believe during a recent visit to the region visit with india. since the mumbai attacks, u.s.-india counterterrorism cooperation has grown exponentially. after the there is concern in india because the u.s. is reluctant to talk about whether he would, india would have direct access to headly. they feel because of headly's scouting mumbai they should be afford the direct access, if not extradition which is now out of the door because of the plea bargain. there are all these conspiracy theories from commentators, et cetera that there is an intelligence component to headly, et cetera. will you and the counter terrorism bureau sort of urge direct access to the indians to headly? and in your remarks you also spoke about the fact one has to stop tacit support to groups like laskira, et cetera. even people like bruce riedel and indians keep talking about the fact u.s.
has double standards in terms of pakistan military and isi assistance to lashka they sort of conceived as opposed to other groups which are an internal ex-sy tensional threat to pakistan. if you address both of those. >> you're absolutely right. i was in india just last week and it is striking the continuity of the questioning i get on these issues. >> distinguish between kashmir and al qaeda components of the pakistan question? >> well, actually, rob, we're less and less able to distinguish precisely because many of kashmir ri groups have, first of all, some groups that have been called kashmirri like lat are punjab and are active in different parts of the country as well as in afghanistan. and one of the trends that we have seen is an
increasing, sort of stitching together of different groups. this is a great worry. we also see a rise in sort of freelancers. people who have the roots in one group, drifting to another, contracting with another. and it makes for, another one of the really challenging aspects of the changing counterterrorism scene. but let me get to the gentleman's question. it is true that i was asked this question very often in india. let me be quite categorical. there are very complex legal issues at stake here but what is not at stake is that the indian government is getting every bit of relevant information from headly that it requires. the issues of access are really best handled by the department of justice, which
handled the plea agreement and because of the legal nature of this, it's really not something that is appropriate for me to be lobbying one way or the other. and my concern is that as you said, the counterterrorism cooperation between our countries continues to deepen and i have to say this is one of the really positive stories in counterterrorism in the last few years. i don't think anyone would have believed we could have come as as far with india in terms of cooperation as we have you know, inadvertent but nonetheless important consequence of mumbai. a recognition that this is a shared threat. there was, as for the issue of a double-standard, i don't think we have one. we've made very clear exactly how we feel about groups like lashkari has killed americans. it is designated foreign terrorist organization.
i did not hesitate to speak about it in either in india or pakistan. let me tell you it's a threat we take very seriously as i suggested in my remarks. >> okay. stanley and woman in the back and gentleman here. gentleman with his hand up there for --. and then. >> stanley kovfer with the cato institute. president karzai just issued a statement, i'm sure you're familiar with it, condemning foreign interference and fraud in the election. this just comes a few days after the president's visit. so i'm wondering what this implies for our ability to cooperate in our common effort against violent extremism? >> i had a feeling that was going to come up. well, you know, we've had a lot of experience with a lot of world leaders who said a lot of things at different
times and we have managed to work through our differences and achieve a good outcome. and, you know, obviously it is a very challenging situation on the ground in afghanistan. there is no doubt that there are times when our partners feel their toe are being stepped on and there are times we're feeling we're being unnecessarily constrained. i will say that i was just there and, in my meeting with the minister of the interior, ministry of defense, intelligence and the like, i was not presented with any sense that we were unwelcome or that we were doing things that in any way undermined afghan interests. so, i think that across the wide range of the government, the enormous number of people who we interact with every day, i think that the relationship is working
pretty well and i think i'll just leave it at that. >> nicely done. woman in the back, with the blue. yeah. did you have a question? okay. good day sir. "fox news" service, russia. i actually not only have one question but two. my first one would be, as you probably know there are 40 people killed in recent suicide bomber attack in moscow subway. so what is your view of effective methods of preventing, containing and investigating such terrorist attacks as probably you might succeed seed with that? and, my second question is going to be more general. what is a state of cooperation between russia and the u.s. in the counterterrorism field? thank you.
>> let me take the second one first. we have very good cooperation between the u.s. government and the russian government. i'm, pleased to say i have a close relationship with my opposite number, the president's special representative for counterterrorism. i contacted him immediately after we got news of the moscow metro attacks. i think that my colleagues who work russia policy issues would agree that against the background of all the different issues that have been in flux over the last few years in our bilateral relationship, counter terrorism has been the constant in terms of the level of cooperation, atmospherics and the, the outcomes. and we're going to continue working on that as, for example, the secretary of state and foreign minister
lavrov were together up in canada at g8 meeting just a few days ago. i think we have a very good basis to work on. we have a shared interest, by the way, in expanding and further articulating the international organizations that deal with counterterrorism capacity building. for example, and i'm hopeful that we'll have more things to deliver in the near term. i'm reluctant to tell russians what they need to do to deal with their extremists. obviously caucuses remain as troubled area. i don't believe we have enough information on who carried these attacks out but, you know, in our experience, good, solid police work combined with good tell work, -- intelligence work, combined with effective prosecutions will make a big difference in terms of delegitimizing terrorists and undermining the cause they stand for. so why don't i leave it at
that. >> in the back. >> thanks. rtitv. just a quick follow-up. is there any particular cooperation and or intelligence sharing and or assistance between the u.s. and russian authorities on these terrorist attacks this week both in moscow. thank you. >> well we have certainly offered our assistance. i don't know that we've received a response. we do exchange, intelligence from time to time. but i'm certainly not in a, in a position to comment on current intelligence matters, nor should i. and, so, you know, you think we'll wait until a few more days of passes to see if there is anything we really want to discuss on that. >> gentleman here. yes. >> burton grover from
georgetown university. you give a very, kind of positive view of what our government is doing and how we assess the situation. what i would be interested in is, when you go home at night, getting ready to go to bed, what is it that you're most worried about that we're not doing, that we're not achieving, and the threat of low probability but very high impact terrorist attacks against us? >> there are lots of things that worry me at night. i'm someone who was, you know, on september 11th of 2001, holding a three-week old son when i got the call from cnn so i'm fully alive to the issues of scat strofk terrorism. -- catastrophic terrorism. i think that, i don't want
to say that there is nothing that falls into that category. we have incredibly complex infrastructure which we've seen can be used against us. we have an incredibly innovative opponent, or genuinely learning organization. and so it is often things we haven't figured out yet that, that ought to trouble us. i suppose that one, when i think about it, what worries me the most is that we are in a race in terms of keeping our technological edge against opponents who are making very good use of, newly available technologies, and that they always are enabled by the fact that the barriers to entry are falling. so we do worry about wmd. we do worry about the fact
every year it goes by there are tens of thousands of more people capable and adept at using tools of biotechnology. or who are very insightful in looking at the holes in our infrastructure. we saw exactly this kind of thing on december 25th where we saw essentially a new kind of explosive device being deployed. so, i guess my biggest concern that we're always on our edge there and, i would add one other, since we're always on point in terms of the technological aspect of this, i think the other thing that does concern me is what i was talking about when i was talking about countering violent extremism. the challenge of learning how to change minds and affect social circumstances in ways that will move people away from extreme i am is a very, very difficult
challenge. and, it's not one that governments have genuinely, historically attended to in the past. so i think that we're breaking new ground and i'm always hopeful that we're doing so fast enough because we really do want to finally answer the question and say, no, there are fewer terrorists on the street today than there whether -- were last week. i think those are two our big challenges. >> mr. ambassador, my name is rosemary. i'm president of hope for tomorrow. we forefocus on violence against women and young people. just want to thank you. i come from kenya. i was in kenya, when the u.s. embassy and in tanzania was bombed by terrorism. my comment what you say about the u.s. a working
with international communities? because if you work with the local communities who are in those countries like in afghanistan and kenya and in africa, i think that can work because, and working also with the women. because this terrorism are young people who are recruited like the one who almost bombed airline. he was not in nigeria. he was in england. this he go around and nigeria became a victim of one person who was not even in nigeria. want you to work with local and international communities who understand their communities, especially the women, and young people so you can work with our organizations in kenya and other african countries, training and working with the young people and women and i think this can, try to remove some, you know, leave some of the problems with the countries so they can, they hoe know themselves.
so i think this is my comment. i think they can work which and i thank the secretary of state very much for working hard on this issue and i thank her for her work too. >> you used term -- >> let me turn that into a question. >> yeah. you used the term micro strategies in your talk. >> that's exactly where we're going. the first of all, just in kenya and, the embassy there under, am bass ranberger is working on exactly those things. for example we're very concerned about radicalization in nairobi neighborhood which has a enormous population of somali refugees and radicalization is real problem. said in my remarks as well working for empowerment of women is an important strategy in this regard because that, is both a
strategy for poverty reduction and for, for, really diminishing radicalization in a lot of communities in which women to date don't have the tools to oppose radicals. and. so bows of those things are very important. as i said every community is different. this is, presents us with a real challenge because we need to have the analytic basis for trying to figure out what we do in particular communities. we need to work with fartherer ined governments and we often need to work with ng oñs because frankly people who look like me shouldn't be walking into some of these neighborhoods and trying to do social epgearing. so it is a complicated task. it is as i said, something we're still in the early days regarding. and, i think it is a real challenge for governments to operate in this way where we're used to, you know, large spreadsheets and big
programs and what not. this is a challenge for us. >> take two more questions. mark and there. >> good afternoon. ambassador benjamin thank you so much for your comments and your service to our country. my name is mark sorrell, and student at georgetown university. my question relates to combating narrative of al qaeda. something i referred to in number of times. the response you gave with your micro strategies and other ways talking about people you know in pakistan, you laid out some of the elements you involved there. something you also talked about i felt was less addressed combating extreme i am in the u.s. which is the sense on rise. i wonder as official of the u.s. state department do you think there are lessons to be learned from governments for example, in europe have dealt with this for longer than the u.s., and if so what those are? imthinking in particular of british government when i was at homeland security had a pretty robust program they were developing specifically focused on this issue. thank you. >> i absolutely think we have a lot to learn from
others and, that's why i have from foreign office in my bureau working on these issues and why we're talking to our partners in the netherlands, france, you name it, about different, undertaking in this area. i think that we would make a big mistake in interpreting american exceptionalism to mean we're immune from radicalization. i think i wrote in the book before i went into government, it's a statistical inevitability. we've been very fortunate thus far. we still are fortunate having a very low level for all kinds of complicated issues having to do with social mobility, origins of immigrants in the united states and the like. but, we absolutely do have a lot to learn from others. and you know, we should be honest enough with ourselves to say that. >> final question.
>> ambassador benjamin, thank you very much. i'm bob --, imindependent consultant on energy. you mentioned the fact within the last year there has been increased cooperation with pakistan. bruce riedel has also noted this same development but he's unclear as to why in fact this is taking place. and, is it just because they realize that it's, now in their own interests, and it hadn't occurred to them before? or are there other extenuating circumstances which may influence their recent stepping up of activity? as a follow-up, i wonder if you could comment on iran's -- on counterterrorism. >> bruce asked me exactly that question. and i don't want to, i don't
want to get too speculative but i do think that, an important part of what we are seeing is due to the growth of trust. our sense was, for example, that at the end of the strategic dialogue we have really had a very good exchange and had taken this relationship to a higher level. you they, the issue of the history of u.s. pakistan relations has been a deeply troubled one. there have long been influential pakistanis who thought we did not have their interests at heart. that we were purely in a transactional mode trying to accomplish our own goals. i believe that after very, very serious engagement, the commitment of enormous resources, efforts to deal with all kinds of legitimate
concerns they have, that we are, you know, making headway. and i'm, i'm not predicting that progress will always be linear but i am hopeful we will have the strategic patience and wisdom to stay engaged and to see this through and you know, a lot of, a lot of people at higher levels than mine are investing an enormous amount of time in this relationship and i think it's paying off so let's hope for the best. as for iran, iran remains the premier state sponsor of terrorism in the world today and, that is obviously a huge concern for the u.s. government. iran however, you know, iran's involvement with sunni extremist groups is a complex and often murky story. we know that in the past iran has been, has been a
place that al qaeda individuals have traveled across or resided in without necessarily the direct support of the iranian government. but, you know, when we look at iranian state sponsorship, we're looking principlely, groups like hezbollah, hamas, smaller palestinian rejectionist groups. i think you've seen press reports of various officials talking about iranian support to insurgents both in iraq and afghanistan. we have seen this at the tactical level. obviously, iran has a lot of concerns about us being on both sides of its borders. the president has pure pursued a an effort to open a new dialogue with iran. the iranians have not